The Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) has new recommendations for women getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The SBI says the vaccine may cause swelling in lymph nodes that could make mammograms or ultrasounds less accurate. The swelling may also increase the amount of false alarms. If you are scheduled for a mammogram around the time of your COVID-19 vaccine appointment, please use the guidelines below.
SBI considerations for the management of axillary adenopathy (swollen lymph nodes) in patients with recent COVID-19 vaccination:
- Consider obtaining the following information on patient intake forms: COVID-19
vaccination status, timing and side (left vs. right arm) of vaccination. To minimize
patient anxiety, consider including this introductory statement: Vaccines of all types can
result in temporary swelling of the lymph nodes, which may be a sign that the body is
making antibodies in response as intended.
- Unilateral axillary adenopathy on screening exams warrants a BI-RADS category 0
assessment to allow for further assessment of the ipsilateral breast and documentation of
medical history, including COVID-19 vaccination.
- Following appropriate diagnostic work up for unilateral axillary adenopathy in women
who received a COVID-19 vaccination in the ipsilateral upper extremity within the
preceding 4 weeks, consider a short term follow up exam in 4-12 weeks (BI-RADS
category 3) following the second vaccine dose.
- If axillary adenopathy persists after short term follow up, then consider lymph node
sampling to exclude breast and non-breast malignancy.
SBI considerations for patients and providers scheduling screening exams:
- If possible, and when it does not unduly delay care, consider scheduling screening exams
prior to the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination or 4-6 weeks following the second dose
of a COVID-19 vaccination.
Click here to read the complete Society of Breast Imaging recommendations report.
Click here to watch a news report on the SBI recommendations.
If you have any questions or concerns, please talk with your doctor.